We do more than Cocos Island Costa Rica – Island of the Sharks.
Check out our Oceans & Rainforest Costa Rica Adventure! →

Cocos – Island of the Sharks

August – Mid-September

10 Days / 9 Nights
11 Days / 10 Nights

US$5,095 pp. dbl occ.


Destination Overview

Cocos Island Costa Rica – Island of the Sharks

Cocos—just the name elicits a knowing smile from experienced divers. Known as the ‘Island of the Sharks,’ it’s not just about the famous schooling hammerheads where the sharks come to you, but a tiny tropical rainforest oasis in the eastern Pacific. Here, you’ll encounter loads of white-tip reef sharks, marble rays, tiger sharks, and the ever-fascinating lobster and octopus. Of course, there are schools of juvenile horse-eyed jacks and hundreds of creole fish gathering together.

Cocos is pure magic for experienced divers, and going ashore adds an adventure of its own. Here’s an insider tip: don’t miss the suspension bridge constructed from repurposed fishing gear seized from illegal fishers. As a bonus, the 2024 expedition coincides with the peak season for humpback whales, offering a good chance of in-water sightings.

Chatham Bay - Cocos Island Tours

Peak Season Diving

Why summer trips? Because that’s known as the best time to visit, and August is the single most popular month.

“The rainy season” is from June through December, when the deep ocean upwellings attract manta rays, and whale sharks can sometimes be seen daily. In July and August 2021, as well as August and September 2022, humpback whales were spotted in the sheltered anchorages. Summer is also the time when the most hammerhead sharks are typically in the area. Visibility can be lower during this time, ranging from 90-ft down to 30-ft with plankton in the upper water column, but rain itself usually only lasts for 2 or 3 hours in the afternoon. Water temps around 80°F. And of course, everything shoreside is blooming with life and incredibly green during this season. Hiking the island will be offered. Special kudos to the government of Costa Rica for banning the fishing of hammerhead sharks.

Sample Itinerary

Sample Itinerary

¡Bienvenidos a Costa Rican!
Upon arrival at SJO (San Jose International Airport), we recommend either taking the short connecting flight on Sensa Airlines direct to Golfito. Alternatively, for more of an adventure, consider renting a car for the 6-hour drive and adventure driving down to Golfito. We highly recommend arriving in Golfito at least several days early to take advantage of pre-trip extensions. Located a few kilometres north of Golfito is the magnificent Piedras Blancas National Park, which, like so many other parks in Costa Rica, is almost bursting at the seams with an astonishing array of wildlife. Our concierge team will happily assist with hotel and resort recommendations.

Day 1: We will confirm the marina where the ship is located several months before your departure date. Boarding is at the marina at 7 pm, and the ship will sail at 8 pm. Knowing that most of our guests have to check out of their hotel or resort around noon, you are welcome to drop your gear off any time this afternoon. However, please note that our crew will be working super hard to get your ship ready for you and will not be able to accommodate early boarding. We plan to sail at 8 pm for the 30-33 hour crossing to Cocos.

Day 2: Your ship is a heavy steel stabilized oceangoing ship, ensuring you the best ride possible. We encourage you to relax, and it’s usually a good idea to take some anti-seasickness medicine just in case. It’s far better to feel 100% and enjoy the crossing than to risk feeling under the weather without medication… There will be ample time for briefings, setting up dive and camera gear, and, of course, cocktail hour at 7 pm with all our other guests!

Days 3 – 9 (11 days / 10 night trips get an extra day at Cocos!):\Anchored in the lee of Cocos Island!! Enjoy some of the best diving in the world on the pinnacles surrounding cocos. The choice of dive sites is at the discretion of the park rangers and influenced by Mother Ocean, with a lot of input from your captain and dive guides. Typically, there will be an opportunity for 2 dives in the morning and 1 in the afternoon, with water temps ranging from 78 – 82°F (27 – 28°C). Plus, there’s the opportunity to go ashore several times, whale watch with the humpbacks, relax, and have a great time!!

Day 10: Last day at sea: We will be making our way back to Golfito, packing gear up, visiting with new friends, and planning your next adventure!

Day 11: Final day: Early arrival in port around 5 am for those who want to catch the early flight on Sensa Airlines to connect with the same departure home from SJO. For everyone else, disembarking is at 8:30 am after a leisurely breakfast onboard.

Frequently Asked Questions

Cocos Island of the Sharks – FAQs


What dive experience is needed?
50 logged dives and advanced open water is the bare minimum experience required to safely dive around Cocos Island. More experience is better and all divers should have good buoyancy skills. The diving can be challenging. There could be strong current on some dives. Some of the dive sites are in open water and exposed to the swell. The difference between Cocos and a destination such as Socorro is that there is no navy base or airstrip on the island which means that airplane medevac is not possible. If you have a medical issue, the boat will have to return to port or at least be met part way by fast boat. For all these reasons, these trips are best suited for good experienced divers. Don’t worry if you don’t feel that you are quite ready yet for Cocos!! Come and visit us in Baja, Sea of Cortez and Socorro and we will get you all tuned and tweaked up for this great adventure!!!

Do I need to dive with a dive guide?
Yes. At Cocos, current and visibility can change dramatically within several hours. If you were to surface unexpectedly mid-dive, there is the possibility of drifting away and needing to use your Nautilus LifeLine to get rescued. In addition to those challenges, local tiger sharks can show erratic behaviour around your safety stop at 15 feet and it’s very important for our dive guides to keep a watchful eye on them. For all of these reasons, Cocos is a dive destination in which guests have to stay with our dive guides. Our dive guides are highly experienced and excellent and they will do their best to give you all the freedom and headspace you might be looking for in your diving, and of course, we are very focussed on giving shooters what they need (sorry, bad pun). Ultimately, your captain and dive guides are the final authority on whether a guest can do a specific dive or not.

What are your safety protocols?
Safety, excellence in guest experience and happy staff and crew are the cornerstones of our business. Nothing is more important than your safety. At Nautilus, we are proud to be the only dive operation in the world with ISM certification and external annual audit of an SMS (Safety Management System). This is the same certification as the largest cruise ships on the oceans. We operate within written processes, procedures and checklists that our captains and crew are trained into both initially and annually. Every dive starts with a briefing on a white board. We require that all divers carry LifeLines marine rescue GPS, SMBs and dive alerts. We will loan you one of ours if you are missing any of this safety equipment. We carry AEDs and extensive medical kits with a contract medical officer available shoreside via our sophisticated satellite communication system. NOTE: because of the remoteness of Cocos Island, we highly recommend a medical checkup before leaving on this trip.

How many dives can I expect?
Your dive schedule may vary according to weather, other dive boats and where the action is. You can generally expect 2 dives in the morning and 1 in the afternoon. Entry into the park is restricted and tightly controlled for diving allowing for not more than 65 divers in the park at any one time. An 11 day, 10 night trip provides for 7 dive days.

Is there nitrox onboard?
Yes, and it’s highly recommended for all divers. The cost is US$ 120 per trip.

Water temperature?
78- 82 °F (27 – 28 °C).

Are the boats camera friendly?
YES, VERY! Ask about rental cameras and photo pro services.


What airport do I fly into?

How do I get to the ship?

What time can I board the ship?

What time do we disembark?

What dive gear do I need to bring?
We provide aluminum 80 cu. ft tanks and weightbelts. Larger steel rental cylinders are available. 5 mm wetsuit recommended to avoid losing body core temp during multiple days of repetitive diving. It’s always better to layer down rather than be cold with no options. We have rentals onboard by prior arrangement for almost anything you need. Please make any rental requests as early as possible.

What to Expect

What’s the weather like and what clothes should I bring?
Well, it’s the rainy season in the tropics!! We recommend casual and cool attire onboard (t-shirt and shorts). It can be drizzly in the afternoons and we recommend bringing a windbreaker and a fleece vest or sweater just in case. Make sure you bring good shoes if you are interested in going ashore for a hike. It’s spectacular onshore. Just wait until you see the waterfalls!

Is there internet and WhatsApp onboard?
Yes. Internet and WhatsApp connection are available for $120 per trip. Please keep in mind that a satellite tracking system at sea only gives limited speed internet access. You won’t be able to stream Netflix!!

What’s the crossing like?
It’s an open ocean crossing to Cocos Island Costa Rica. It can be smooth or it might be rough or more likely, something in-between. The Explorer is our flagship that has steamed through everything, from the current-swept chilly waters of Alaska to adventuring down to Clipperton Atoll, just north of the equator. We highly recommend the scopolamine “patch” and a glass of red wine to relax and have a snooze on the crossing. During the trip, we anchor in the calm anchorage behind Cocos.

Is there a fuel surcharge?
Of course not! We figure that dive boat companies that with fuel, surcharges year-in, year-out are just taking an extra fee onto the trip.

What’s an appropriate crew tip?
US$ 400 – $500.

Get Inspired!

Cocos Island - White Tip Sharks

Get Inspired

Watch our Costa Rica videos